I still remember the day like it was yesterday. I was about 14 years old and was walking down the street with my dad. After a little while he turned to me and said, “Todd, look up while you walk. There is a big world out there. You’ll never be able to see it if you’re always looking down.”
You see, even at a young age I had a reflective and contemplative personality. I often looked down while I walked not out of a lack of self-confidence or because I liked to stare at my feet.
I looked down because my awareness was inside.
One of my Nursing school friends once shared with me that when she was a little girl she would often climb to the top of a tree because she liked to look out at the horizon and imagine herself exploring whatever was beyond it. She had an outward focus. I told her that I also did the same thing when I was younger but instead of looking at the horizon I would often close my eyes and feel how the tree was gently swaying as the wind pushed against it. She focused outwardly. I focused internally.
What Does Internal Focus and Outward Focus Have To Do With Fitness?
To me, the difference between internal focus and external focus is like the difference between body weight exercises and lifting weights. Lifting weights is a relationship between an object and the lifter. There is an external focus.
During bodyweight exercises there is no object to have a relationship with. Its just you. So the focus has to be internal. I think that is why I like them so much.
Ido Portal is a perfect example. He moves with an sense of where his body is in space. There is a relationship with oneself that is incredible. He has mastery over his body and uses movement as a type of meditation. His focus is internal.
This is why I pursue body weight exercises. The benefits of functional strength are great, but there is a deeper element of learning to control oneself.
Why I Made The Transition From Below The Bar To Above The Bar
After I built my PVC Bodyweight Gym, I realized that bar calisthenics helped shift my focus even deeper. Balance became more of an issue and in order to hold a move I had to become intensely aware of where I was keeping my balance. For almost a decade I have been training in calisthenics and have loved them. Doing many different styles of push ups and squats is exciting, especially because there are so many variations. However, the focus has been on strength gains.
I wanted to challenge myself in a new way. I wanted to learn handstands, planches and arm levers… on the bar. So I decided to set in motion the steps in order to achieve these goals.
Mid March I decided to move forward with Parallettes Two (A Gold Medal Bodies’ Program) and have been blown away with the results so far.
They have a Parallettes One program but after consulting with Amber (Gold Medal Bodies’ Team Member) she recommended Two because I already had a basic level of fitness and strength.
Below you will find some of the moves that I have been able to achieve from the program. I already could do V-Ups but all the others are new moves for me.
Bent Arm Handstand
Straight Arm Handstand
Double Arm Lever
Single Arm Lever
Tuck Hold (A few steps away from the planche)
V Up (Not a new move for me but still part of the program)
I sought out a program that I felt would help me achieve the goal of balance and strength. I wasn’t looking for muscle growth or fat loss. I wanted to master my own body and achieve a type of “meditative strength practice” that I haven’t really seen before in the industry.
The End Goal of the Program…
Bar calisthenics is extremely attractive to me because I used to teach Tai Chi and what I see below has elements of Tai Chi in it. In the video, Ryan uses breath control, fluidity, and a balance of yin/yang energies. After I can do the below routine, I plan to incorporate even more of the principles of Tai Chi into this routine and make it my meditative strength practice.
So that’s it my friends. If you want to learn more about the Parallettes Two program, here’s a link. It is not “challenging” in the normal sense of the word. It won’t have you panting til your out of breath like many other programs. It focuses on skill development in a systemic way. For example, below is a diagram from the manual.
I like how each of the 4 stages build off of each other. I am still on stage 1 of the program and am already super excited by my new arsenal of moves. I couldn’t do handstands or tuck holds before the program yet Ryan has a systematic method for helping anyone, even if they are new to bar training develop these moves.
Hannibal for King and Denis Minen, eat your heart out! Todd Kuslikis is gunnin’ for the title! 😉
Have a great day my friends!